Prince’s Gold


I’m pleased with my ride at yesterday’s Prince’s Risborough sportive. I beat the gold time target by a decent margin, doing 126km in 4hrs 20, the same time as I posted for the 114km Burgess Hill Classic in late March. The BHC was admittedly a lot hillier, and that day I spent a fair amount of time solo whereas yesterday I was able to work with small groups of strong riders to draft on the flat. Check the results – I’m around 33 out of 232 finishers.

That said, I can see a definite progression in speed endurance after the last 6 weeks of training, which has included some big miles as well as higher intensity training like hill repeats and sustained zone-three intervals.

The sportive

To get a quick time in a sportive of any distance, but particularly 100km+, you either need to be strong enough to ride at 30km/hr into a headwind for 4 hours, or you  need to draft with fast riders on the flat to shield you from the elements. Hence the first rule of sportives:

  • If you want to get a fast time, start at the front. That’s where the classy riders start, and they go quick. If you can’t hold them you’ll have the opportunity to latch onto other fast groups overtaking you – but if you start at the back you’ve no chance.

Yesterday’s 500-strong field had plenty of strong riders, so even though I missed the very first group start, I was able to draft with a number of different groups of 3 or 4.

Right at the start I saw 2 guys racing away at what looked like a crazy pace, and rather than cane it in the first half hour I let them go – but then I had to work into a headwind leading a group I ultimately dropped, so which is a better way to conserve energy and go faster overall?

I had a nice little burst with a bloke from Oxford, who it turned out is also riding the Fred Whitton and La Marmotte. We rode together to bridge a gap between a slightly sluggish groupetto and a forward group, but I lost him on the following climb.

Between the first and second feed stations I was humming along at a decent pace, but mainly solo. I remember turning sharp right at a T-junction and being caught by a guy in a Rapha shirt, who went past me while my gears got stuck (note to self – never put a new chain on an 18-month-old cassette) – but passing simultaneously was some other guy in a Durham strip. He was flying, and kept on flying up a long draggy incline; he was easily the classiest rider I’ve seen on any sportive I’ve ridden.

Work rate

Here’s my heart-rate graph for the event – an average of 153bpm – which pretty much proves I smashed it. The extra rest I had before the event (2 full days off and only a light spin on the day before) did certainly make me feel fresher on the day.


The only other point of note was that my calves became extremely tight and uncomfortable over the course of the ride. Hmmm, maybe a chat with Aglaia?

2 Responses to “Prince’s Gold”

  1. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Recovery notes #2 May 5th, 2009 at 5:39 am

    […] Prince’s Gold […]

  2. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Sportives – advice for the novice February 5th, 2010 at 7:13 am

    […] you can draft. Furthermore, you have to draft to ride a good sportive. Tactics and timing definitely play a part, it’s important to time your effort whilst preserving your strength […]

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